Remembering the Country Stars Who Have Died in 2023

by

Riley Johnson

Updated

January 16, 2024

Updated

January 16, 2024

Updated

January 16, 2024

In 2023, we said goodbye to some of country music’s most talented men and women. From chart-topping legends to rising talents, each departure left behind a resonating echo in the hearts of fans.

RELATED: Year 2023 Saw These Country Stars Tying Knots or Getting Engaged

So, today, let’s reflect on their contributions and pay homage to these iconic figures and unsung heroes whose melodies shaped the soundtracks of our lives. Join us as we take a somber yet celebratory journey through the lives and careers of the country stars who have died in 2023.

1. Mark Capps (December 14, 1968 – January 5, 2023)

Tragically, at 54 years old, Mark Capps met a fatal end when a SWAT team member shot him in his own doorway. The SWAT team was responding to distressing reports that he had been holding his wife and adult stepdaughter hostage. Before this incident, he had been wanted for charges of aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping.

2. Lisa Marie Presley (February 1, 1968 – January 12, 2023)

Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of singer and actor Elvis Presley and actress Priscilla Presley, experienced a cardiac arrest at her residence in Calabasas, California. The autopsy findings revealed that her passing was attributed to a “small bowel obstruction,” a complication stemming from a bariatric surgery she had previously undergone.

3. C.J. Harris (January 28, 1991 – January 15, 2023)

C.J. Harris, whose real name is Curtis Harris, secured the sixth spot on the thirteenth season of American Idol back in 2014. He passed away at a hospital in Jasper, Alabama, succumbing to a heart attack.

4. Kyle Jacobs (June 26, 1973 – February 17, 2023)

Country music songwriter Kyle Jacobs died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Nashville, Tennessee. Jacobs’ songs have been recorded by artists such as Kelly Clarkson, Tim McGraw, Jo Dee Messina, Trace Adkins, and many more. He also collaborated with popular artists such as Darius Rucker.

5. Gary Rossington (December 4, 1951 – March 5, 2023)

Garry Rossington was widely recognized as one of the original members who helped create the Southern rock sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd, contributing both lead and rhythm guitar to the band’s legacy. 

In 2015, he suffered a heart attack that led to the cancellation of two Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts. He then underwent emergency heart surgery six years later. 

Rossington died at his home in Milton, Georgia. Sadly,  the cause of his death was not revealed.

6. Ray Pillow (July 4, 1937 – March 26, 2023)

Ray Pillow, a hitmaker in the mid-1960s and a member of the Grand Ole Opry died in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 85. 

7. Keith Gattis (May 26, 1970 – April 23, 2023)

Keith Gattis won over fans globally with his soul-stirring melodies and heartfelt lyrics. He died at the age of 52 in a tractor accident at his home.

8. Gordon Lightfoot (November 17, 1938 – May 1, 2023)

Canadian folk-rock icon Gordon Lightfoot also died of natural causes in 2023. Earlier in the year, Lightfoot announced the cancellation of his 2023 North American performance dates, citing unspecified “health-related issues.” The statement even reassured fans that he anticipates a full recovery. Unfortunately, his health declined.

9. Jesse McReynolds (July 9, 1929 – June 23, 2023)

Bluegrass pioneer Jesse McReynolds died weeks after falling ill.

His wife, Joy McReynolds, has been keeping everyone updated with McReynolds’ condition through her Facebook page since the beginning of 2023 when the musician suffered a heart scare that required the use of a pacemaker. Despite being in assisted living for three months after returning home, his health took a downturn.

“Jesse passed peacefully with me at his bedside at 3:58 PM today,” Joy shares.

10. Bobby Osborne (December 7, 1931 – June 27, 2023)

Another Bluegrass pioneer, Bobby Osborne, died in 2023. He breathed his last at a hospital in Gallatin, Tennessee, at the age of 91. 

Bobby Osborne served as a source of inspiration for generations as one-half of the groundbreaking duo Osborne Brothers. Grand Ole Opry mourned his death, calling him “among the last of his generation of bluegrass pioneers.”

11. Jerry Bradley (January 30, 1940 – July 17, 2023)

Meanwhile, music executive Jerry Bradley died at age 83. However, no cause was given. The Country Music Hall of Fame member belonged to the renowned Bradley family, a key player in shaping Nashville’s music industry. His collaborations with artists and contributions to albums played a significant role in shaping the essence of country music.

12. Randy Meisner (March 8, 1946 – July 26, 2023)

The bassist and founding member of the Eagles passed away due to complications arising from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). 

The country rock band expressed their sorrow over the passing of their bandmate, calling Randy Meisner “an integral part of the Eagles and instrumental in the early success of the band.”

13. Jimmy Buffett (December 25, 1946 – September 1, 2023)

Buffet, a singer-songwriter who was renowned for his captivating tropical country rock sound and distinctive persona, passed away at his residence in New York, succumbing to complications from Merkel-cell carcinoma – a rare and aggressive form of skin cancer that he had been battling for the past four years. 

Buffett had chosen to keep his health struggles private, carrying on with his passion for touring even as he underwent treatment.

14. Mike Henderson (July 14, 1953 – September 22, 2023)

Mike Henderson passed away peacefully in his sleep despite being in very good health. Henderson is well known for his founding role in the Grammy-winning bluegrass band the SteelDrivers and his collaboration with Chris Stapleton.

15. Buck Trent (February 17, 1938 – October 9, 2023)

Country music instrumentalist Buck Trent died at the age of 85, but the circumstances leading to his death remain undisclosed. Trent was known for his influence on the evolution of country music during the 60s, from traditional to countrypolitan pop. 

He played the electric banjo – a creation of his own with a unique style that replicated the sound of a steel guitar, among other inventive techniques – for acts such as Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner.

Well, with the profound impact they had and the timeless tunes they made, the spirits and memories of these country icons live on.


Tags

Bobby Osborne, Buck Trent, C.J. Harris, Gary Rossington, Gordon Lightfoot, Jerry Bradley, Jesse McReynolds, Jimmy Buffett, Keith Gattis, Kyle Jacobs, Lisa Marie Presley, Mark Capps, Mike Henderson, Randy Meisner, Ray Pillow


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